Crocodile Fears: Doc Stands By Horror Drug Diagnosis

Drug agents and law enforcement officials say they haven't found evidence of "crocodile" in the area, but the doctor who went public about it last week says he saw unmistakable signs of the drug in his patients' ravaged bodies.

Amber Neitzel pulls bandages off her leg to show a wound she said was caused by injecting the drug crocodile.
Amber Neitzel pulls bandages off her leg to show a wound she said was caused by injecting the drug crocodile.

By Joseph Hosey, Patch.com

There is no test to detect traces of the shocking horror drug "crocodile" in a user's body, and police in the region say they have yet to find anyone in possession of the substance. But the doctor claiming he found five cases of crocodile rotting patients bodies from the inside out last week is standing by his story.

All Dr. Abhin Singla needed to see was the "green scaly appearance on the top layer of (skin) tissue" to know the stricken were all crocodile users.

"You generally don't see that," Singla said. "At least I haven't in the last 16 or 17 years."

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More patients have come through Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet claiming they have lost tissue to crocodile but Singla said can't tell with certainty because their wounds were treated—either by doctors or the patients themselves—and the green, ruined flesh is gone, if it was ever there at all.

Singla's five crocodile cases showed up at St. Joseph's, but other area hospitals haven't seen any sign of the mystery nightmare drug, said Mike Weber, the director of the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad.

"You can call it crocodile all you want. We don't know if it is crocodile," said Weber, who had never heard of the drug until last week when St. Joseph sent out a press release entitled, "Local Addiction Medicine Specialist Warns Flesh Eating Drug Now In Illinois."

Singla said he only decided on distributing a press release after reaching out to the Drug Enforcement Agency and receiving no reply. A colleague attempted to contact local law enforcement agencies and was likewise ignored, he said, and the Centers for Disease Control did not respond to a query from hospital nurses.

"You have something like this going on, why wouldn't you warn people about it?" Singla said of sending out the press release.

But one veteran undercover drug agent claims there is nothing to warn anyone about.

"How come five or six drug users in Will County are the only people to purchase this drug in the entire" region? said the agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "How come no one else has these symptoms?"

The agent did acknowledge that, after seeing photos of a supposed crocodile user's wounds on Patch, he knew that something strange is going on.

"It's not caused by common drug abuse," he said of the gaping, rank sores on the young woman's legs and arm. "I've never seen that before."

The St. Joseph press release said crocodile "originally began in Russia in 2003, where availability and distribution of heroin is problematic," and is made by combining "codeine tablets, and gasoline, paint thinner, lighter fluid or other substances."

The name crocodile "comes from the scaly green appearance that develops on the skin," the release said.

Weber wondered if instead of a crocodile codeine mix, the powerful drug was just ordinary heroin cut with another potent substance. He pointed to the death toll taken by the fentanyl-heroin cocktail in 2006 as an en example of his theory.

"It could just be a bad batch of heroin," Weber said.

The anonymous drug agent claimed his skepticism is the general consensus of the police but said no one wants to voice their doubts publicly, just in case they're wrong.

"No one in law enforcement want to come out and say that," he said.

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